It was a year ago this week that my world changed.
I was planning a Christmas party for the coming weekend and had taken the week off work. Everything was fine, until my hands got sore, and the aching in my body wouldn't go away, even though I hadn't gone to the gym in a few days. I had no clue what was going on, but wasn't that worried. Just vaguely thought I must be coming down with something.
Vaguely because I was too busy getting ready for my party! Christmas cookie party! Friends! Fun! Christmas music! Glowing candles! The smells of clementines and coffee and cinnamon and yummy cookies! Who had time to worry about getting sick???
Besides, I hardly ever got sick. I seriously have had maybe 4 colds in the last 10 years. No kidding! The last real illness was the flu and that was some 13 years ago. I have a very healthy immune system.
Little did I know that that healthy, healthy immune system was about to run rampant and turn on me.
The party was Sunday afternoon. I was so thankful toward the end, when just my sisters and their families remained, that my youngest niece played helper and cleaned up. I was wiped and sore. But happy. Still not thinking.
The next morning, I couldn't move when I woke up. I mean, literally couldn't move.
It had been a week since the first symptoms of something wrong had begun to set in.
I finally managed to get out of bed and called my doctor to make an appointment. The next day was even worse. I wouldn't say I was paralyzed in the medical sense of the word (obviously not!), but close: so stiff and sore I can't even begin to describe it. The thought of experiencing that again scares me, especially since now I've had pain with the symptoms and know it would be much worse. I called the doctor's office in a panic at 6 in the morning, then drove there without an appointment, even though I was scheduled to go in the next day.
Welcome to the world of rheumatoid arthritis, you!
I had no clue what I was in for.
The drugs are a miracle. I thank god, the stars, the world, the ground I walk on, and scientists, most of all scientists, every day for the drugs. Without them I wouldn't be able to get out of bed. I don't exaggerate. I can't imagine how people with RA years ago survived without them.
It's been a tough year because of RA and for other reasons, but I surprise myself with my resilience, strength and character. I honestly didn't know I had it in me!
These past few weeks have been particularly tough: on top of everything else, I've developed frozen shoulder in my left shoulder. Who knows why? For the enjoyment of the universe? Because life isn't fair? Because somebody had to? Just cause? Really doesn't matter. It just is, like so much else in life. So, hard as it is, and freakin' painful as it was (and it was!!!! – but luckily the pain is dying down), I keep going.
It isn't courage. I don't really know why people say that. Courage is jumping into a lake to save someone when you have the choice not to. What is my choice? To lie in bed all day and moan? Not really. I'm not that badly off. Not compared to some people. So I would never say it's courage. Character, yes. Fortitude, sure, OK. You just keep going. One step after the other, just the way you always have. Sure, it's a little more challenging, and, sure, I feel a little more cranky at times, and have way less patience with those who are self-indulgent. So you have a cold and your nose is dripping? Get a Kleenex! I am also, paradoxically, more patient and understanding in many ways.
Do I wish I was here? No.
And once again, no.
But I am. And so I go on. As do we all.
Happy Anniversary to me.